Final Stats | Photo Gallery BALTIMORE - During the offseason, Loyola University Maryland Head Coach G.G. Smith was clear that two of the keys for the 2014-2015 men's basketball team would be improved rebounding and 3-point defense.
Loyola (1-1 overall) executed both well on Sunday afternoon as the Greyhounds won their home-opener, 76-71, against Cornell University. The Greyhounds held the Big Red to 3-of-19 (15.8 percent) from behind the 3-point arc, and they finished with a 43-34 advantage in rebounds.
Cornell (1-1) came into the game having won Friday night at George Mason University, 68-60, by shooting 50 percent (9-of-18) from 3-point range and outrebounding the Patriots, 46-38.
"I'm really impressed with our rebounding; that's two games in a row that we have outrebounded our opponents," Smith said. "And, it's two games in a row that we have held our opponents to 35 percent or lower from 3-point range. I like the direction we are going with that."
The Big Red pushed the tempo in the early going, scoring the first six points while forcing two Loyola turnovers in the first 2:42. Tyler Hubbard, however, hit two threes on Loyola's next three possesions, and Franz Rassman had a paint basket on the other, and Loyola tied it at 8-8 less than two minutes later.
Devin Cherry answered Hubbard's second three with one of his own at 14:54, and Cornell led 11-8, but it was the last points the Big Red would score for more than five minutes. The Greyhounds went on a 12-0 run during a span that the Big Red missed all six of its shots and turned it over four times, including on three consecutive trips to its offensive end.
Eric Laster scored five of the points during the stretch, and freshman Colton Bishop tallied his first collegiate points with a banked-in three from the top left side. Rassman then put Loyola up 20-11 with a layup at 9:32, and after Galal Cancer made 1-of-2 at the line for Cornell to momentarily stem the run, Rassman drilled a baseline 17-footer to five Loyola a 10-point lead with just under nine minutes left in the first half.
The Greyhounds stretched their lead to 13, 34-21, when Andre Walker made a top-of-the-perimeter three with 2:32 on the clock, and Chancellor Barnard had an offensive rebound and putback with 12 seconds left to make it 38-24.
Robert Hatter hit a three for Cornell with less than two seconds left in the first half, sending the teams to the locker room with the Big Red down, 38-27. Cornell cut its deficit to five, 38-33, with a Shonn Miller jumper, a Hatter fast-break layup and two Cancer free throws in the second half's first 1:17.
After a Loyola timeout, Cornell blocked a Greyhounds' shot, but Cherry missed a three and Laster hit one for Loyola. The Big Red had three offensive rebounds on their next possession, but it could not convert the chances into points, and Laster made a pull-up 12 footer from the left side at 17:03 to push Loyola back up 10, 43-33.
Just under seven minutes later, a Barnard free throw made it 58-50 Loyola, but Cornell scored the next six, and it was a two-point game after a Wil Bathurst layup at 7:10. Cancer later tied the score at 62-62, and David Onuorah made 1-of-2 at the line with 5:26 showing on the second-half clock to put Cornell ahead, 63-62.
Denzel Brito made a layup for Loyola to push the Greyhounds back in front on the next possession, and score was either plus-two for Loyola or tied until Laster made a three from the top right with 3:20 left in regulation.
It would be the Greyhounds' last field goal of the game, but they went 7-of-10 from the free-throw line down the stretch to secure the victory.
Hubbard finished with a team-high 15 points, leading four Loyola players in double figures. Laster tallied 13, Rassman had 12 and Walker finished with 11.
Cam Gregory, a freshman playing in his second collegiate game, led all players with 10 rebounds, and Barnard, another freshman, had six points and six rebounds.
"I thought Andre Walker, Chancellor Barnard and Cam Gregory gave us a great defensive effort today for freshmen being that it's the second game of their college career," Smith said. "They come in and really give us a lot of energy.
Milled paced Cornell with 20 points, but he did so on 5-of-15 shooting, and Cancer added 19.
The Greyhounds continue play in Reitz Arena Wednesday, Nov. 19, at 8 p.m. when they host crosstown rival UMBC. The game will air live on MASN, the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.